Winter Health Hazards for Seniors: Tips for Staying Safe and Healthy
Spring is quickly approaching, but winter is still in full bloom here in Cottonwood Heights, UT. The snow-capped mountains and trees look beautiful against the bright blue skies above, and there are plenty of wintertime activities to keep Canyon Creek Senior Living residents active, fulfilled, and happy!
Despite the majestic beauty the wintertime may bring, the season doesn’t come without risks—especially for the elderly. In the spring and summer, we worry about heat exhaustion or dehydration, but what about in the winter? Read on to learn about the top winter health hazards for seniors, along with tips for how we can ensure our aging loved ones stay healthy this season.
Slick Roads and Walking Paths
Falls are one of the leading causes of injury among seniors, which makes icy conditions especially hazardous for the elderly. Whenever possible, if ice is an issue, stay indoors and off the roads.
More Grip, Less Slip
If you absolutely must go outdoors and brave the conditions, take extra precautions to ensure safety. If you’re driving, put your chains on. And if you’re walking, even for a very short distance, make sure your senior loved one is wearing shoes that provide extra grip against slippery surfaces.
Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly popular to further bolster your winter shoes with spikes or cleats that are designed to prevent slippage. These cleats can be attached to any shoe, taken on or off, and are great for protecting against slips and falls. Popular brands include Yaktrax or Stabil, both of which can be purchased online or at a local outdoor clothing and gear shop.
Hypothermia or Low Body Temperature
With temperatures dropping at or below freezing, the risk of getting cold increases tremendously. The solution: turn up the heat and dress in layers! Next time you visit your elderly loved one:
- Make sure they have a well-insulated coat, hat, gloves, and a scarf.
- Encourage them to wear several layers even when inside, and especially if they plan to venture out.
- Make sure their heater is working well before the cold season kicks in, and get it serviced right away if there seems to be an issue.
The winter season is notorious for bringing about the cold and flu! Aside from staying warm, it’s especially important for the elderly and those with weakened immune systems to get a regular flu shot. Seniors can get their flu shots at local pharmacies, walk-in clinics, or though their primary care provider.
In addition to the flu shot, it’s important to encourage your aging loved one to drink lots and lots of fluid—and to get their Vitamin C!
Inactivity and Lethargy
We all know how difficult it is to stay active when the weather is cold and uninviting. The natural tendency is to stay indoors to rest and relax, which is completely fine! However, too much downtime and inactivity has its downsides, too. Especially for the elderly, it’s important to make sure we keep good, healthy circulation, encouraging the body to stay warm, all of which helps the body stay healthy and protected. Even just 20 minutes of indoor exercise a day can help improve circulation.
Need some ideas? Walk around the house, watch an exercise video, or do some chair yoga! Here at our senior living community, we offer regularly-scheduled fun and safe fitness activities for our residents, which inspires seniors to stay active, healthy, and happy—even in the winter! Check out our activities calendar for inspiration.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Sundowner’s Syndrome
The darker winter days mean less natural sunlight. Not getting enough exposure to natural sunlight can cause a host of different issues among the young and elderly alike, ranging from seasonal affective disorder to sundowner’s syndrome. Depression, lethargy, and slow or confused thinking can all accompany this lack of exposure to natural sunlight.
If your aging loved one isn’t able to get enough natural sunlight, you might want to try light therapy, which can help to stave off the symptoms caused by reduced sunlight exposure—and has even been shown to help boost one’s mood! Vitamin D supplements can be helpful, too, and can be taken year-round.
Along with feeling more lethargic during the winter days, the risk of social isolation increases during the darkness of winter. Encourage your senior loved one to get involved in community activities. If they’re living in an assisted living community like Canyon Creek Senior Living, there are plenty of engaging social events, activities, and outings to engage in. Plan frequent visits and phone calls, encouraging your aging loved one to get out and about and stay engaged with the things and people they love.
Bringing It All Together
We hope that you found these tips to be helpful! If you’d like to discuss senior care options and are in the Salt Lake City, UT area, feel free to contact one of our senior care advisors or caregivers, and we’ll be happy to help you find the best senior care option for you or your aging loved one. Stay safe and well!
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